Action Comics # 1013
Lex Luthor makes some offers, and the mystery of Leviathan deepens in Action Comics #1013, by writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist Szymon Kudaranski, colorist Brad Anderson, and letterer Dave Sharpe. Bendis weaves together multiple plots in this one, and while it’s an overall entertaining issue, it still feels a little lackluster.
Lex Luthor offers the Queenpin of the Invisible Mafia a gift, but she refuses. Her guards destroy the drone Luthor was using to communicate with her, and she decides to leave the house she’s staying at. At the Daily Planet, Perry talks to Robinson Goode about how she got so many good stories even though she hasn’t been in Metropolis for long. She tells him about how she got the interview with Rose Forrest and then tells him about what Rose told her about Leviathan making her an offer. During the conversation, she starts to turn to mist and runs off after Perry tells her to run with the stories. Superman encounters Thorn attacking some Leviathan agents and starts questioning one of them. When he takes off the agent’s helmet, he gets teleported away. Later, at the Daily Planet, Clark tells Perry about the encounter and his theory about Leviathan. Perry tells him to work with Robinson. At Robinson’s house, Lex Luthor gives Robinson Goode a gift.
In the last issue, it appeared that Bendis was getting back to the Invisible Mafia, but this issue sort of blows that all out of the water. After putting them on hold for his Leviathan story, he again adds the group to the book at the expense of the Invisible Mafia plot. It feels very weird to have introduced something as clever as a crime group that has been operating under Superman’s nose for years and then constantly putting them on the back burner. The idea had and still has potential, but always making it second fiddle doesn’t really do it any favors. Also, the fact that the Queenpin of the group is so dismissive of Lex Luthor is a little much. It makes sense for her to have some bluster, but she’s a crime boss. Lex Luthor is so far above her on the scale of villainy that one would think she wouldn’t try and antagonize him.
Beyond that, this is an entertaining issue. There’s not one, but two action scenes, a rarity for a Bendis written issue of Action Comics. Luthor’s second offer is taken by Robinson Goode, and he offers her information about her powers that she doesn’t have. The scene with Superman and the Leviathan agent reveals more about the group- they actually think that Superman will be on their side eventually and refuse to fight him. Superman also isn’t interested in fighting them and does everything he can to make sure the agent he’s questioning won’t be hurt if he removes his armor.
Szymon Kudaranski’s art continues to impress. The grittiness of his pencils fits the overall tone of the story. The first action, with Thorn fighting some Leviathan agents, is very well done. The art gives the fight a sense of brutality by providing close-ups of the hits themselves. It’s very effective. Brad Anderson’s colors also work very well with his art. Most of the meat of this story takes place in the dark and Anderson knows how to use just enough contrast to give the scenes a feeling of darkness while also having just enough light for readers to see Kudaranski’s excellent pencils.
Action Comics #1013 does a lot to build up Event Leviathan and Year Of The Villain, but not much to build up the Invisible Mafia plot. By constantly sticking this plot in the background, Bendis is damaging an idea that deserves the spotlight, and when he finally does bring it to center stage, readers might not even care about it anymore. Kudaranski’s art is perfect for this kind of story, though, and Anderson’s colors work with the pencils to give the book the right look and feel. The strange thing about this comic is that there’s not very much wrong with it, but it doesn’t feel special. It’s entertaining, but it’s also aggressively average as a whole. Nothing about it really stands out, for good or for ill. It would be nice if Bendis could have stuck to one plotline instead of watering the whole thing down by including so many. None of them are bad, but it just doesn’t feel right putting them all together.